Lisa Dunlap circles

Lisa Dunlap

Nurse your Soul

"Finding Balance In Healthcare With Mini-Moments of Self-Kindness"

Video Transcript

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[00:00:06.900] – Laura Cicholski

I am Laura Cicholski, welcome. Welcome to the finding balance in your business, career, finances, Health and Life podcast. Today, we are thrilled to have Lisa Dunlap as our special guest. Lisa is a resilience coach, integrative nurse practitioner and wellness educator who brings 13 years of combined nursing and nurse practitioner experience. Thank you for your service and your medical care. Her certifications and healing touch, reflexology and clinical aromatherapy, combined with trainings in mindfulness and self compassion, offer a comprehensive and holistic approach to healing transformations.

[00:00:46.790] – Laura Cicholski

Her vision is to create a global community that nurtures human connection and empowers self healing. She currently works with health care providers and senior citizens to empower them to move from a place of uncertainty, overwhelm and burnout to a place of self acceptance, confidence and thriving. Lisa. It’s great to have you here with us today. Thank you so much. How are you?

[00:01:09.740] – Lisa Dunlap

I’m great, thank you. What a good summary. Good job on the bill.

[00:01:14.030] – Laura Cicholski

Thank you. This is so impressive, the fact that you are a nurse practitioner. So healing patients. Thank you so much for your service. But then also now you’re helping others, other nurse practitioners, nurses, health care providers and senior citizens to be empowered, especially over the past year with everything that everyone has dealt with with Covid. So tell us a little bit more about your story. How did you transform from being a nurse practitioner, healing patients to now healing other nurse practitioners?

[00:01:40.650] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah, I love that. And I think it’s a as you know, when you walk the walk, then you talk the talk. So that’s how we all learn and grow and when we can take our own challenging times and turn them into opportunities, that’s really how we can reframe for positivity. So for me, about a year and a half ago now, I kind of hit a peak of physical and mental health issues. And I’ve always been super active person.

[00:02:12.680] – Lisa Dunlap

And so this was brand new. It was right after my fortieth birthday. And I just hit this wall of really overnight after trying to run a race, not being able to walk and take care of my children. And there was no injury per se, and I actually had to go on disability. And at the time I didn’t know it was just hip,  low back, and sciatica. And being a provider and medical, I certainly searched all the Western diagnoses and tried to find an answer for this.

[00:02:48.120] – Lisa Dunlap

And just to back up a little, I had 20 years of, like, holistic experience. It’s funny how when we’re ill, we sometimes don’t integrate those things right off the bat. So dealing with severe pain and debility, it was just the first reawakening for me and becoming the patient and going into offices and trying to get answers and get scans and imaging and getting poked. And, you know, you get put in boxes and you get placed into this like chronic pain category.

[00:03:16.430] – Lisa Dunlap

And so it really opened my eyes to what patients go through and also how to find joy amidst pain. And so that was kind of step one in my journey. And that was about, you know, three months before I found diagnoses. And it was like an S.I. joint issue. And there was what I found is there was a lot of stress and emotions tied up in that. And as I took away the stressors, things started getting better and as I implemented holistic practices.

[00:03:48.350] – Lisa Dunlap

And then I had a second piece to the story, a second wake up call around March of 2020 when the pandemic was really hitting King County, Seattle, where I was really hard and I was out on the front lines going into nursing homes as a hospice provider. And as you know, at that time was like, we’re not using it. There’s not any go in blindly and I’m going in and out of five nursing homes a day. Meanwhile, my kids child care, they’re really small at the time was closing and I was like already, which I didn’t know, dealing with pain.

[00:04:21.530] – Lisa Dunlap

I knew, but I was burnt out and I didn’t know till later. And so I, I got a call from a doctor and the call was the one you never want to get. Like we found this large mass in your ovary. We don’t know what it is. It’s the size of a grapefruit Rush in. And it’s like. You know, and you’re you’re like tunnel vision to wow, like this could be “IT” because ovarian cancer can be, as we all know, deadly and suddenly your whole world just goes silent and very quiet and becomes like, OK, these could be my final moments.

[00:05:02.700] – Lisa Dunlap

This could be the last. And meanwhile, the doctors were closing shop and around King County and everyone saving everything for covid patients. And it was like crazy. And so I just got really quiet and I did. To be honest, I went down all the fear and the anxiety like I’m human. I’m not that unworldly. And I did that for I spiraled for a couple of weeks. I thought I was metastasizing. I thought I had, you know.

[00:05:33.390] – Lisa Dunlap

So you’re starting to hear a theme of this like mind body connection playing out against me. And then, you know, I really got to think, OK, if these are my final moments and I’m stuck at home and locked out in this pandemic with my kids, with my husband, what do I really want? And it’s like came to joy and the fact that I can’t control anything out there, even what was going on in my body. But I could control my thoughts and my heart.

[00:06:02.700] – Lisa Dunlap

And I just really started learning the power of being present and finding joy in each moment and dealing with pain and emotions as they come up, which was a privilege. Mind you, I was off work, but not everyone has this privilege. And I was on disability and I my husband’s very supportive. And so I just learned to, like, enjoy my kids laughter again and literally take off my shoes when things were rough in the toddlers screaming and I was in pain and go in the grass and just engage my senses, listen to the birds, look at nature, breathe, really practiced a lot of mindfulness, self compassion.

[00:06:45.990] – Lisa Dunlap

Got on my yoga mat every day. I had weekly calls with old girlfriends where we cried and we were all doing Zoome calls back then, you know, and lo and behold, you know, so we found out it wasn’t cancer. Wonderful. And then I waited three months for the surgery because I was last on the list. Right. There was a lot of pain and so there was a lot of pain and a lot of moments of struggle within that.

[00:07:11.370] – Lisa Dunlap

And then going for surgery and the doctor looks and there’s nothing there. They cut me open and it’s gone. And so she was just like you like. And she got multiplies in your. I think they had ultrasound in me eight weeks before and the big mass was there and it was 11 centimeters. And so then they went in eight weeks later and it was just gone. No imprint, no sign of it bursting. So in her mind, it was unexplainable.

[00:07:40.180] – Lisa Dunlap

She said she’d never read about this in the research. And this wasn’t the kind that just dissolves. And so I knew in my gut suddenly everything came together. It was like, oh, I had taken away stress. I had created a lot of like symptoms in my body from stress and burnout and through peeling off those layers, dealing with the emotion, dealing with the pain. Learning how to be present and find joy and a community of healers and people that work, this is a little woo woo for some.

[00:08:14.790] – Lisa Dunlap

But man, you know, manifesting and praying for me and imagining healthy, right. It all went away. And so then overnight, it was like after that surgery, I just said, if I can be sick from stress, so many in my shoes are, too. There’s so many working moms. You’re a working mom and all of a sudden health care take on so much and get so much, I can help others find a way to either prevent what I went through or to heal for themselves.

[00:08:47.520] – Lisa Dunlap

And not to say I’m magic, but it’s all about awareness and like learning what we need to be. Well, and that’s kind of how this came. And then I became decided to coach women in health care, especially since I’ve coached a couple of men and senior citizens in assisted living, because that’s my experience is geriatric. So I have a passion heart for them during this epidemic. And so I’ll I’ll teach holistic tools and ways to just kind of get through hard times and find a place where you’re thriving and can heal yourself.

[00:09:21.010] – Laura Cicholski

Lisa, your story is amazing, and I know it will really help health care providers that are dealing with a lot of stress, whether it’s in their own life or whether with all these covid patients they’ve dealt with. So one thing that stuck in my head that you just said was you talked about finding joy amidst fear and pain because you had both your fear about  the tumor. They didn’t know what it was. And then also the pain with your sciatica.

[00:09:43.300] – Laura Cicholski

So how do you suggest health care providers and others do that? Because when as you know and you’re seeing patients throughout the busy day, it’s hard to find time. Do I mean to just stop and think and be mindful? What are some thoughts that you have whether depending on what they’re dealing with, how to find joy, how to be mindful of that present moment? Because really, you’re right, all we can control is that one present moment.

[00:10:00.760] – Laura Cicholski


[00:10:01.970] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah, totally, and I mean, I think it’s a process, but it’s not going to happen overnight, it certainly didn’t for me, it would be a delight to say that. So just a little disclaimer is sometimes these things do take daily practice before you’re in the heat of the moment in in your stressful day and you think that mindfulness tool. So I do want to say that, but I will say mindfulness practice was probably the root of it, because there’s the awareness is the first step of knowing what you are feeling and what’s going on and when so many health care providers, moms and also just the pandemic where we’re in this fight or flight mode and you’ve heard it, you’ve done these stress series before.

[00:10:49.490] – Lisa Dunlap

And so it’s when you’re in that mode, you can’t be in your thinking brain. And it’s hard to even think of tools. So one way to calm the fight or flight so you can even think about what you’re feeling or what you need is deep breaths and some I like to attach that to a sensory practice. And so many senses they’ve found one deep breath for five seconds, calms your vagus, takes you out to fight or flight into parasympathetic.

[00:11:18.590] – Lisa Dunlap

And that’s like five seconds in, five seconds out, OK? But the other way to do that is to engage your senses. It’s been found that it takes you out of that amygdala and trauma response. And so my favorite way is just step outside at work. You step outside. It’s almost hard not to engage a sense. You instantly have the sound of the birds, the trees, traffic. You can touch a plant, you can smell a tree, and not everyone can step outside.

[00:11:49.500] – Lisa Dunlap

So look out. You can look out your window and breathe. And the practice typically is naming what you see. And I tell people, you know what? If you forget five senses or you know what, just engage a couple. That’s so the deep breathing, the sensory practice. So once you’ve calmed and you’re reconnected to yourself because that’s what’s going on, right? Fight or flight, we’re not connecting the present. Then you can say to yourself, what’s going on?

[00:12:22.500] – Lisa Dunlap

What exactly am I feeling? OK, I’m stressed. I’m grieving that last patient. Right? What? And then the question is, what do I need? That’s the powerful one. And I’ll share self compassion practice later here. But because that could be you mentioned it before we got on this call sitting down for a break and eating food or drink a big glass of water. I mean, this is realistic for a busy day, food, water.

[00:12:55.860] – Lisa Dunlap

And you can do that mindfully, right? You can do that without scrolling. You can do that without working.

[00:13:02.820] – Laura Cicholski

Exactly. Exactly.

[00:13:05.190] – Lisa Dunlap

Those are a couple nuggets and one that I have used a lot that providers use. And I think now with PPE is while you put on your PPE, taking deep breaths and doing that self check in, because when Atomic Habits is a great book and that idea of combining things like combining a habit, you’re already doing that. You may not like putting on your PPE, but then putting on top of it a mindfulness practice, because you’re going to do that every five times a day depends on your setting.

[00:13:40.740] – Lisa Dunlap

Then you can do the breathing and the self check in or even look at your surroundings and name what you see, name what you hear. So that’s, you know, I have more, but those are a few to get started. And the whole concept is reconnecting to yourself and getting into your prefrontal cortex. So you can then say, what am I feeling? What do I need? And sometimes we can’t give it in that moment. It’s a mental check.

[00:14:08.580] – Lisa Dunlap

When I get off work tonight, I need to ask for twenty minutes before from my husband before I engage with the kids. I had a rough day. When I get home tonight, I need to move my body because. So did that answer your question?

[00:14:23.160] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, that was very good and I think it’s right. Yeah. We were talking before we started here and just talking about like sometimes it might be annoying the E.R. physicians. They may not be able or nurses may not be able to do this, but there’s someone in the office maybe just looking, thumbing through a magazine while they’re at lunch if they have time. I mean, the the E.R., the urgent care, the people that are in, like the critical care, they’re not going be able to do that during the day.

[00:14:46.140] – Laura Cicholski

They’re running from one place to another. But like you said, the ones that are in the critical care, they could do the breathing rate for a second or maybe put their hand on the wall for a minute where they’re going to room and just kind of do some deep breaths or look outside or one of my speakers was just to Sabrina Cardini. She talked about doing a break room. So that would be good, too, right? You could have the candle there, maybe some music, a soft chair magazine, something that if they can’t get outside, they could maybe access incenses.

[00:15:10.860] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah, and I do I remember you were asking about joy amidst pain. And I think that to get even more specific on that, because a lot of what we do in health care is can be psychologically painful, like there’s difficult patients, there’s dying patients, there’s suffering, there’s moral distress. When you don’t believe what your patients families believe or your your even your health care system believes. Right. And that causes burnout. But the joy of it’s pain is really powerful.

[00:15:42.480] – Lisa Dunlap

Try it when you’re uncomfortable to really hone in on the present and what you’re grateful for. And I’ve practiced when I go in for like an IV, a blood draw or, you know, you’re about to get surgery and you’re afraid and you focus on everything you can that’s good about the experience, the kind nurse, the wonderful people surrounding you, the fact that you have health care. So this could be the same for a job. I have a job.

[00:16:11.850] – Lisa Dunlap

I love this coworker,  I love this coffee stand. So it’s pulling the nuggets of gratitude. And then in the moments you’re getting something that’s painful emotionally or physically. You’re breathing and really just the word I use is surrender, you’re surrendering. Like, I can’t control that this is happening, but I can choose to find laughter in this moment. And so it can be really powerful to laugh at yourself a bit and think I would have normally been panicking or angry, but I’m choosing to joke around with the physician while the nurse is poking me.

[00:16:47.850] – Lisa Dunlap

Or it could be a difficult patient. You’re choosing to find something positive. So that’s how I kind of got through those times with a lot of pain while I was waiting for surgery and.

[00:16:59.610] – Laura Cicholski

Which is so good and, you know, we can never, like you said, you bring up so many great points and you’re really help health care providers with these things you’re talking about. But we can’t control everything that happens in our body, you know what I mean? We we just can’t. And so I think I love how you have. So even if people are having health challenges right now, if they can even say, know the affirmation thing, what you talked about, which is telling yourself I’m going to be as healthy as I can possibly be to you.

[00:17:22.380] – Laura Cicholski

I mean, at least then even if you need treatment or even if you’re going through a lot of different things, at least your mind is at least helping you in the right direction, right. Vs. your mind pulling in one direction, your body, another right there, at least your mind is trying to help you get toward that treatment direction you need to to to heal as best that you can. And I think for those people that are healthy, that just have a lot of stress in their life, saying, I think, thank you for allowing me to be so healthy over there, why am I so healthy?

[00:17:47.740] – Laura Cicholski

Every day can help us, don’t you? Did you find that in your story with your brain? How else can you.

[00:17:52.020] – Lisa Dunlap

Totally 100 percent. And that affirmation piece goes into the positive mindset. And there’s studies on that now. More subject to reports. But some, I think of actual like like me, I would be a candidate of a physical example of that. But, you know, anyone can say it’s many variables, which I do believe that it is it’s a positive mindset. It also comes to diet. We are what we put in, correct?

[00:18:19.430] – Laura Cicholski


[00:18:20.040] – Lisa Dunlap

Rest and, you know, managing our stress. But the affirmation I love that you brought that up because our brain is wired to look for negativity. Yes. Anxiety and like find things to prove our story of why the world is treating us bad. And it was a real eye opener for me, dealing with anxiety and depression. Much of my life will still do. But I manage it a lot better now to figure out how to look for the good and actually rewire your brain.

[00:18:52.380] – Lisa Dunlap

That’s the neuroplasticity. And so when it’s not all just, whew, they’ve done brain scans. And so when you start looking for the good, it’s almost the snowball effect and it trains your mind to look for more good. And it’s contagious. So it’s like if I’m looking for good and sharing it with you, then you’re going to start doing it. And I love that because that’s so cool with patients and the affirmations are really personalized. So when I work with clients coaching, it comes to looking at our root beliefs and then reframing them into an affirmation.

[00:19:27.900] – Lisa Dunlap

And so you kind of brought one up earlier when we were talking about health care providers, moms. We tend to be overachievers over the years. Some people, people, please, some some of it’s self worth. Yeah. When you can figure out that limiter and why you’re pushing, pushing, pushing, then the affirmation can be like I’m worthy no matter what I’m doing my own good. I am successful even if I’m not doing right. And it’s OK to take PTO.

[00:20:05.100] – Lisa Dunlap

Right. You know, like these are the simple ones that I’ve used and I had to learn to rest. And you brought this up like that. Rest is a self care tool and a way that you can recharge and be better for your patients and your family. But we often think we need to do do do to do self care. So.

[00:20:26.920] – Laura Cicholski

Those are amazing points and, you know, it’s interesting, I think you’re right when you if you think about, like your nurse training and nurse practitioner training, I know my training years ago that they taught us in clinical medicine. They taught us to look at the worst because if someone came in with abdominal pain, you knew the top four things you were going to think about. That could be bad because you didn’t want to miss it. Right. It’s appendicitis.

[00:20:45.700] – Laura Cicholski

Different things are coming into your head. And then maybe it was just gastroenteritis, but you were thinking about the big things first and then you were ruling those out then. So I think we’re wired to as your wonderful health care provider and all these other health care providers that are to think about the worst first. So I think we have to switch it around for ourselves. Right. And try to think about kindness for ourselves, not necessarily the worst. And I like how you said don’t ignore those feelings, because I know years ago people would say anxiety and stress.

[00:21:14.140] – Laura Cicholski

They’d say, oh, just forget about it. It’s fine. Well, you know what happens when you forget about it, right? It just gets bigger and bigger, you know what I mean?

[00:21:22.210] – Lisa Dunlap

Oh, man. And that is I feel like this is a new movement, right, where we’re reducing the stigma and we’re what I found in my life. The more I tried to deny things I didn’t like about myself, the weekness, the vulnerabilities I tried to make change them, the worse it got. And so was part of my healing journey in that six months when I was transforming all my pain and all that stuff was allowing it and just saying, you know what, I feel crappy today.

[00:21:50.350] – Lisa Dunlap

I’m having a bad day. It’s OK. I still love and accept myself. My children love and accept me. Even if I’m laying on the couch in pain, I can still be present to them. And it’s not all about feeding them and clothing them. And the same with going to work like you have a bad day, but you can honor it and occasionally have even shared it with patients, which I don’t think is typically taboo. But you can just say, I’m sorry, I’m having a rough day and I think patients like that, they connect more to the vulnerability rather than the superhero.

[00:22:22.960] – Lisa Dunlap

And that’s often with my coach, my clients, my people that I work with. It’s like we’re human. And so that vulnerability rather than the shame in all parts of ourselves, and it helps patients with what they’re dealing with. They deal with it. And so, yeah, and I wanted to say something about looking for the positive and looking for the we were talking about that. And you were talking about how health care providers are kind of talk to look for the negative.

[00:22:50.710] – Lisa Dunlap

And I wanted to add that we’re even like talk to look for the negative in us. Right. Because sentinel events, snakes. And, you know, that’s not because you want to do it right.

[00:23:02.470] – Laura Cicholski

You want to be I mean, you want to do it right. Especially if you’re taking care of patients. You want it to be you wouldn’t want to try to mess. I mean, well, we all make mistakes. It’s normal. But in patient care, it’s different because you just you know, you want to do something wrong for a patient.

[00:23:15.760] – Lisa Dunlap

You can feel like a failure if you’re not really looking at all that you’re doing. That is good. And then, you know, so we’re taught to look for mistakes rather than I did a good job today, you know, and the more we do, we’re often rewarded for that. Right. So if we have a day where we can’t fulfill all of the boxes, we feel bad, or if we can’t finish our charting, we feel bad.

[00:23:37.330] – Lisa Dunlap

And then it comes into some boundary stuff, which is a great topic. But body awareness is the other one I always find interesting. We’re almost taught in I know in nursing school, I’m sure in school and NP school like, you know, you don’t really listen to your body on a shift. You don’t if you’re hungry or you have to pee or you’re thirsty, do you get to do that in the moments you need to do that? We kind of shut off our body awareness and they say in order to change like behavior and mindset, getting reconnecting with body awareness is the number one way.

[00:24:09.340] – Lisa Dunlap

And studies have shown that. So the more you can listen to your body when you’re having GI issues or back pain, you’re like, oh, there’s those red flags. I need to make a change. And it’s as simple as I’m hungry. OK, I’m going to fit that in today.

[00:24:24.820] – Laura Cicholski

Right, exactly. I know. I remember a time when I was in school years ago, and it’s this is just on a small scale because I know people are doing the E.R. and stuff now, practicing the way different and way more difficult. But I remember I went in it was a small little hospital in my doctor. I was doing it with my doctor growing up. I was doing a rotation with my six week family practice and he had to do such a small hospital, Lisa.

[00:24:45.700] – Laura Cicholski

He had to do the call, the E.R. call so they would rotate it. So I remember I went in with him like 4:00 in the morning. I got called, I think, and we went over there and drove. And then I was there with him the whole morning and day. And then he had gotten home at noon because I was his half day. So I work with the other doctor. So the other doctor, we went in to see the patient like five.

[00:25:02.740] – Laura Cicholski

I was still going in. The patient looked at me and he’s like, you’re still here. He’s like, you were here at 4:00 this morning when I first got here and then he was in the hospital. But yeah. And so I and then granted I was only 23 at the time so I could handle it. But it makes me think now about doctors, nurses, how many hours shifts and what can they do as well about talking to maybe the health care leaders that are trying to do a great job.

[00:25:25.920] – Laura Cicholski

Health care managers trying to staff the hospitals, but when they really feel like they need a break or there may be you double, I mean, working double shifts are too long because as nursing, you probably ran to that due to 12 hour shifts.

[00:25:36.730] – Lisa Dunlap

I did. And I will say there’s many ways around that. And I learned quickly by my own awareness it wasn’t for me. And so I then found early on in my career, I also did night shifts. I also did, you know, took over time. I found I would thrive in my own wellness and my skill set and my stressed community setting in where I could do a nine to five job and I could do so. Early in my nursing career, I realized I wanted to do house calls.

[00:26:08.740] – Lisa Dunlap

I wanted to work in the clinic. And, you know, so many people told me, you can’t do that. You need to do more like medicine, ICU, you’re going to ruin your career. That is not true. I did not ruin anything. I in fact, I was more valuable and I’m more valuable to the roles I have now because of that path. Right. So I tell people, one, make sure you choose and align your values, your vision for yourself and your life with your role.

[00:26:37.960] – Lisa Dunlap

And if it can’t, because, you know, circumstantially figure out ways to do that within your role. And that’s what you’re talking about, which is setting some boundaries. Yeah, there’s a lot of guilt and shame in our medical system and pressure to. Oh, well, I work doubles and I work 60 and you need to do that. And there’s kind of this old boys club mentality, especially, I hate to say, but I’ve found with physicians more than like, well, we we did all this in residency.

[00:27:09.520] – Lisa Dunlap

And, you know, you’re what I’ve been I will say this. I’ve been pressured and looked down upon for taking time off to be with my family or requesting four day work weeks or requesting three day work weeks. And what I but I stand strong and that no, I’m setting a precedent for what’s healthy and right. And so I’d say, one, talk to your manager, figure out what you want first. Is it less hours? Is it shorter days?

[00:27:40.810] – Lisa Dunlap

Is it less over time? Drop to per diem? I know a lot of people have overcome burnout by dropping to per diem. They still work a lot, but they have the control over their schedule right now. And I say you’re not always going to get the receptive answer you want, but it helps you make more choices because then you can say, is this the right fit for me? And I know and you know, as a recruiter, there’s so many jobs out there.

[00:28:08.890] – Lisa Dunlap

And I’m not I’m not encouraging people to go and quit, but right, right times that’s you succeed in different roles. And so I don’t know if that answered your question, but it did.

[00:28:20.140] – Laura Cicholski

It was a great answer. And I think also like. Yeah, for my health care recruiting background, it’s interesting because we find to it’s and I think I interviewed Leslie Fiorenzo for my Strachwitz series and Leslie talked about difficult conversations and she always said if people can go into itself, the employee can go into it talking to health care manager, how can we both win? How can we both benefit from this? Because it’s because if you have an employee that’s working so many hours and they can they can say, gosh, you know, I feel at the end of my shift that I’m not at my best mentally thinking in you when you’re in health care, you need to be as sharp as you can.

[00:28:52.630] – Laura Cicholski

And so I think going into it with like, how can I if I can work a shorter shift, I feel like I’ll be even sharper, you know what I mean? And happier. And you bring more energy to it. Kind of letting me know that. And I remember I love that. And I I’ve done a similar version of that. But this will make me a better provider and I’ve done things like offered in some roles. When I worked for a hospital in Honolulu, I was dropping down to part time.

[00:29:19.420] – Laura Cicholski

I requested because I was having a baby and I was doing a kind of taboo thing, like I should stay on full time. And I said, I’ll find you someone to you don’t have to do this. But I knew people who wanted my job, so I found someone to fill in that other 20 them. We’re so grateful. I mean, it was like, sure, because they knew I was having a baby. And there’s always that risk in the back of their minds.

[00:29:45.640] – Laura Cicholski

Are they coming back to work after baby?

[00:29:47.860] – Laura Cicholski

Right, exactly. Yeah, they do it. You bring up an interesting point, because when I was at Merck Pharmaceutical Sales and the sales rep, they we did a job. Sure. After my friend that I was working with, she actually had her second child. And I knew I was going to have kids. And so we did the job. Sure thing. For several years. And it can work out really well. It gives you kind of the best of both worlds, the work life balance with your kids and then also be able to still keep your career, which is awesome.

[00:30:11.500] – Lisa Dunlap

And I will say yes. And I will say in my experience, I’ve had better success with negotiating schedules, less hours on higher. So I’ve gotten pretty good because I know my values, my vision, my mission to balance. My life, my health, my kids on hire, I will say when I’m interviewing, I really want to negotiate a three day or four day workweek and some places, you know, and when you’re clear on that and then you are like, you know, that’s not a good fit.

[00:30:40.440] – Lisa Dunlap

And because I have found it’s a little more challenging when you’re brought on at a certain expectation, I drop down. But but nurses have the power to not take overtime, no matter how much, like there’s guilt and toxicity around that. They can say, no, I’m not taking that. I’ve heard of situations where they’ve gotten bullied or shamed because they’re not hours. You know, that’s kind of gets into the toxic work environment, but.

[00:31:06.660] – Laura Cicholski

Right. Might not be the best fit. Well, I like that. And maybe this is part of the mental wellness revolution in movement, like you talked about earlier. I remember when I was in school at an E.R., in a smaller E.R., in a town near us. And it was interesting because that E.R. actually had all physicians that were staff there. They weren’t family doctors. But it was interesting because one doctor was amazing, but he would work twenty four hour shifts twice a week.

[00:31:28.790] – Laura Cicholski

So I was like, oh, my gosh. Like, literally, I couldn’t imagine because I think I might shift with him was like eight hours. But I was like, oh my gosh, he really had to do like 60 more hours. And he’s like, I love doing it. And he had a lot of high energy, but I’m thinking I don’t know how good that was for his body.

[00:31:42.340] – Lisa Dunlap

Totally, and I’ve been in those conversations where they’re bragging about that and I have stood up and just said I I don’t know that that’s something I want to brag about. You know, that just depends on you how much you want to get into TV.

[00:31:54.820] – Laura Cicholski

Right? Right. Yeah.

[00:31:56.020] – Lisa Dunlap

What I do in my soul, I’ve decided I want to change the culture from within and I can be an example for others. So if people think it’s to be looked down upon, well, that’s their issue, not mine. And the other thing that I was thinking about as we were talking about those long hours was for moms and such. And just like because you really have to take care of your wellness when you’re taking care of kids at home.

[00:32:20.950] – Lisa Dunlap

And and so and oh, I know what it was. Providers, nurse practitioners was charting on weekends tends to be the boundary struggle. And how one’s an interesting one is how do we overcome that? Because a lot of us take our charting home. And so that conversations with your management about struggling to get your charting done, how can we make this? Can we work together? I love the win win. It’s becoming a pattern. It could be.

[00:32:51.370] – Lisa Dunlap

I’ve asked for more training from my colleagues, like how are they getting their charting done? Can I go out and shadow them? That was really helpful because I saw where they took shortcuts that were allowed in their charting that I wasn’t thinking. Or is it possible I can have admin time to get some of this charting done during the week? Right. Or, you know, letting it wait till Monday. No one loves to do that. I know, because but I think that one’s an ongoing struggle that you have to really figure out the right boundaries in the right discussion.

[00:33:20.710] – Laura Cicholski

But you’re right, because if you are working all weekend doing charting and you didn’t get time to do what you wanted to do or spend time with family or friends or your kids, then you’re coming back. Not well rested, right? You’re coming back tired and you didn’t get a break in. So how can you be there as well for your patients? That’s a good point. Now, when you’re talking about the charting, were you talking about doing like the dictations after seeing the patient or more so of the callbacks?

[00:33:42.310] – Lisa Dunlap

OK, yeah, I think a lot of nurse practitioners, at least I don’t know what it’s like for struggle with getting the charting done in real time, especially if you’re in a clinic setting where they’re back to back to back. Ideally, you’re in real time. It just doesn’t you don’t always have enough time to do it. I know when we were in school, at least they had us to do like the little SOAP nte. They had us do it right after, right in between patients.

[00:34:05.200] – Lisa Dunlap

PA’s, But it’s different because I wasn’t see my own patients I was shadowing. So it was. But they wanted us to do it. And then you were fresh on it as well. So I think if they ideally if maybe that’s a conversation with because obviously we want to be as productive as we can, but maybe that’s a conversation that health care providers could have and even health care managers with the front office staff thing, OK, I need a few minutes in between patients.

[00:34:25.540] – Lisa Dunlap

You know, I’m going to see this patient for twenty minutes. If it’s internal medicine, then I need a couple of minutes in between to be able to do SOAP note, do my dictation and then be able to kind of go. But then obviously the charts you have from the callbacks are different in lab work, right? That’s a whole nother story.

[00:34:41.050] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah. And I think it can be Ima’s and learning like shortcuts. It’s not always templates. It comes down to how how much are you charting. I know for me I often fell into that. So fifteen minutes per  patient wasn’t a good model for me. That’s what geriatrics really pulled me in. And like housecalls, because you only see four or five patients a day, you get with them. So there’s more time. The fifteen minute model is challenging, I think for most of us because, you know, and then of course, I learned how to focus.

[00:35:13.300] – Lisa Dunlap

I think most providers know this now. You refocus your client, your patient to one or two problems. Right. And let’s come back. Right. And so that’s a boundary again. It comes to bound with your patient. And I think charting at home is a self boundary to where you have to really make a choice. Is this worth it? Why am I doing this? Who is this for? And is this aligning with my vision to have family time, health care time, right?

[00:35:42.020] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, exactly. I think that’s a good point because, yeah, I could see during a busy day that it would be hard to do it, but I would think if you could do it right after in a perfect world, I was in the E.R. that’s not going always happen, you know, or even sometimes when they’re seeing I see some physicians as interesting as they’re seeing patients now at the EMR, they actually bring their computer in the office. My kid’s pediatrician, and he’s typing as he’s going, but he still has to do what he found in the physical exam, what the plan is when he’s done.

[00:36:08.180] – Laura Cicholski

But it’s interesting because if some people could even be typing as they’re seeing the patient, I mean, granted, you want to make sure giving your attention to the patient. But what if that would be an idea, too?

[00:36:16.280] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah, we do that, too. It’s kind of like it’s a combination, again, of what’s required in EMR can be really a new patient intake it could be many problems on the problem list. And I think there’s just not enough admin time given to providers who fulfill that. And so, again, like one way I got around, it was asking for more training and I went out and shadowed fellow providers and I learn tricks like how are they getting their charting done?

[00:36:42.110] – Lisa Dunlap

Because that’s often you look around and you’re like, I’m the only one taking it home on weekends. Right. Right. And then you learn some leave it till Monday. You know, it’s not ideal, but I’m not recommending that. But or you have to ask, can I have a couple less patients during the week? And then again, you have to check it. Is this the right role? Because some people just are better at that than others that I just learning what you’re good at.

[00:37:08.660] – Lisa Dunlap

Right. And like being OK. I am not good at seeing patients every 15 minutes, so I’m not going to choose those roles for myself.

[00:37:15.890] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, you want to, but that’s good because you recognize what you’re good at and then you kind of go from there. One last point, then we’ll let you do the self compassion practice. But it’s interesting, we talked about earlier, like how we were trained and how I was trained as an as an NP that not try to not make mistakes. I do as well as you can. That’s not possible in the health care field or any industry did not make mistakes.

[00:37:35.420] – Laura Cicholski

We will people will well, unfortunately, pass away. Different things will happen. But how do you I love how you kind of went through the whole joy and missed pain. How do providers deal with that, knowing that, yes, they want to do the best they can? Is it doing the best they can throughout the day and then knowing things will happen? But how do you work through that? Does that make sense?

[00:37:54.410] – Lisa Dunlap

I think so I think you’re asking like when there’s like an inner story about failure and wanting to succeed and then wanting to treat your patients to the best, how do we get through that fear of making a mistake? Is that what you mean?

[00:38:09.290] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah, right. Even when the mistake happens because we’re human and we’re. Yeah. And we’re human and so we’re going to make mistakes. And we it’s even for my kids to play sports, that’s a whole different level. But it just for them, a lot of times they’ll I’ll be like, hey, use your new soccer move during the game. And my dad was like, I know they might take it away from me. And I’m like, hey, that’s the best time to try it.

[00:38:29.600] – Laura Cicholski

Know that’s a small minor level compared to what percent and doctors do. But how do they get past the fact that none of us really want to make mistakes? But it’s part of life. We’re human. It’s normal. But getting to the mindset of when a mistake happens. How to how to deal with that?

[00:38:45.350] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah, I love that. And I think that this is perfect lead into the self compassion practice because you kind of put it really well. And what I have learned is it’s a surrender and an acceptance of what happened. It’s OK. I’m human and I can guide you through the practice. And there’s this. The studies show we feel isolated in our suffering. And so this part of the self compassion practice is recognizing and saying to yourself, others go through this, too.

[00:39:17.990] – Lisa Dunlap

And I think we don’t talk about it enough in health care, the mistakes we make. But recognizing you’re not alone is so powerful. And that’s, again, like what I offer group coaching is really powerful because health care providers get to come together and talk about all their similar circumstances and then say, oh, you make mistakes, too. Oh, you feel guilt, too. Oh, my gosh. And so the surrender of it and acceptance.

[00:39:43.580] – Lisa Dunlap

So and then it it comes back to the mind full awareness of what is that belief that that’s irking me. Is it that I’m not worthy? Is it that I failed? You know, your daughter is like fear of failure, which is also normal. And then so once we recognize it surrendered to it, then we can reframe it to failure is growth. Failure is how I learn. Mistakes are what bring me more opportunities. However you want to reframe it.

[00:40:14.120] – Lisa Dunlap

I feel shame. Shame is a part of suffering and many people feel shame and it’s OK to feel shame and it’s OK to make mistakes. And so you reframe that into I’m human and I think that it happens a lot. I, I remember my boss giving me conversations when I was going through burnout and him picking out before I knew I was burnt out. Oh gosh. The patients are saying you’re just checking off the boxes and you’re not connecting.

[00:40:43.190] – Lisa Dunlap

And it was like, whoa, I’ve never heard that. I always connected well with patients. I remember just feeling so terrible and saying to him, you know, I just feels like I’m not doing well at this job. He’s like, Oh, I’m not saying that at all. Like, he was really kind. And he’s like, I just I’m just sharing how you can learn and grow. And I was like, what would help me if you could also share what I’m doing?

[00:41:04.760] – Lisa Dunlap

Well, and he’s like, Right. I never thought of that like, well. So I just told him what I needed and I told him that I felt like I was doing a terrible job because he was coming with some of these. Right. Not that we need the approval of someone else, but it helped me understand, OK, he’s just trying to improve my craft. He’s not saying that I’m a terrible nurse practitioner. And again, I realized later it was a little warning sign of life.

[00:41:36.030] – Lisa Dunlap

And that’s also when we make mistakes, we can look within and say, OK, what was going on? Was I in 10 different places? Did I not sleep well? Had I not eaten right. Right.

[00:41:46.590] – Laura Cicholski

Because I burned out. Because I work in too many hours. Too much overtime. Right.

[00:41:50.030] – Lisa Dunlap

Right. And then we can make changes. I mean, some mistakes are just mistakes like we can. There’s no reason, right?

[00:41:56.740] – Laura Cicholski

I think as long as they’re doing going back to the Hippocratic Oath, try not to do any harm that could harm could happen. But at least if you’re trying your best and doing everything you can for that patient, I think you can feel you feel good at the end of the day.

[00:42:09.180] – Lisa Dunlap

It’s like accepting it, honoring it and letting it go, because that’s just in the past and that’s when you’re in that trauma brain and it’s not serving you because now you’re onto the next patient. And if your brain is still in the self critic and we can have more stress, more mistakes. And so that’s kind of where the self compassion practice because the inner critic doesn’t go away like that is not going away. The goal is not to get but go away.

[00:42:35.860] – Lisa Dunlap

But the goal is to be aware of it and recognize how much it’s happening. And then can we practice self compassion.

[00:42:43.750] – Laura Cicholski

Yeah. Which is so good. Well, this is a perfect segue way into your self compassion practice. Let’s let’s do it.

[00:42:48.770] – Lisa Dunlap

Awesome. So for those of you who are watching this and at your desk and able just this will take about three minutes. If you’re driving, don’t close your eyes or put your heart disclaimer. And you know, if it is helpful, I can write out the steps and we can post it with this. But don’t close your eyes and just take some deep grounding breaths. And just notice your breath and try to slow it down in through your nose, out through your nose.

[00:43:27.450] – Lisa Dunlap

Notice your feet on the floor. Notice the earth supporting you, your chair supporting you, your spine supporting you, breathe. If thoughts are coming in and out, no judgment, just allow try to just observe, let them go, breathe, notice your breath. If it feels comfortable, place your hand on your heart, just notice how your heart feels. Is it tight? Is it open, neutral? Breathe into that space. Bring to your attention, since we are talking about mistakes to great opportunity, focus on the last time you made a mistake and felt bad about yourself and your inner critic was running strong.

[00:44:30.140] – Lisa Dunlap

Maybe it was a needle stick, maybe it was a parenting mistake or a medication error. And in that moment when you felt like I’m a terrible, you know, insert whatever you felt or I’m failing or I’m afraid I’ll do this again, whatever you were feeling, just name that and breathe into that. For a moment to surrender, accept that you’re feeling this way. Recognize others, fear failure. Fear mistakes, others go through this, too.

[00:45:15.440] – Lisa Dunlap

You’re not alone. Others make mistakes. This is a moment in time that will pass and then breathe. Now, think of someone in your life that’s really nurturing, it could be a friend, it could be a parental figure, and if you were telling them it’s telling them about this, what would they say to you? Maybe I’m here for you. You’re strong, you’re human, it’s OK. You’re not alone. Try to say those words to yourself and breathe.

[00:46:01.190] – Lisa Dunlap

And then just ask yourself what it is you need right now or later today, maybe this is enough, the breathing, the checking in, maybe you need a little walk outside for five minutes to just soothe yourself. How can you nurture yourself today? Breathe. Take your hands off your heart, just notice how your heart feels, your hands, if your energy feels any different. Take some final deep breaths. And open your eyes when you’re ready.

[00:46:56.260] – Lisa Dunlap

Just notice how you feel if anything came up, you can draw it down or just this, a practice is available to you anywhere, any time it takes two minutes. And sometimes when I do it on the fly, I’m not closing my eyes and putting my hands on my part. But if you forget the steps, I will say putting your hands on your heart when you’re struggling with anything, just it triggers you to remember what’s going on and what do I need.

[00:47:24.220] – Lisa Dunlap

And that’s really the essence of it. What’s going on and what do I need? And those are questions I encourage people to remember is because if you have your own ways of soothing yourself, nurturing yourself, that can work. But you got to ask the question to do it, which is so powerful that was really relaxing. Very, very good for you in the beginning. Real quick, this brought up something in my mind you talked about, like the mind, heart, body connection earlier.

[00:47:53.950] – Laura Cicholski

And so I think we’re realizing, like through your experience and everything that happened to you, how powerful our minds can be and how they can either help us to be healthier or not healthy. Right. I mean, granted, things are going on in our bodies. You never know. It could be something else as well. But the mind can be super powerful. So I think you’re the self awareness practice and the self compassion practiced in being kinder to ourselves can really just help wherever we’re at with our health stage, right?

[00:48:22.630] – Lisa Dunlap

Oh, yeah. And there’s studies. If you guys want to look up like Dr. Kristin Neff has a really intellectualize self compassion work and she has an f a whole wealth of free resources research studies. We all have research in medicine and they’ve done studies on health care professionals for six weeks who did many moments of self compassion at work and found improvements on all the things that go with burnout, reduce stress, reduce depression, reduce or improved our house. It’s great.

[00:48:53.860] – Lisa Dunlap

It reduced compassion fatigue, which is one of the keys to improvements in focus energy. I mean, it’s so amazing. And it really was a study about doing it in many moments,  like on your yoga mat every day. Right. Which is overwhelming. And of course, there’s a well, a wealth of research on mindfulness. And I think it’s become more mainstream that we know that it produces stress, improves sleep anxiety. And so I think the hard part is the puzzle of how do you fit it in and how do you remember to do it?

[00:49:28.030] – Lisa Dunlap

And that’s kind of what we just talked about, is when you’re stressed, you have to sometimes practice tools at home before on your yoga mat a few minutes in the morning before you remember at work to do it where you tie it in with a habit at work that you don’t like to do anyway. That’s there. I need every time I put on my PPE or every time I wash my hands, I’m going to try this. And so, yeah, and I do want to disclaim that Western medicine has a place and it definitely played into my healing too.

[00:50:01.090] – Lisa Dunlap

And it wasn’t just but mind body was powerful, but it certainly was a combination of all things.

[00:50:09.100] – Laura Cicholski

But it’s nice because obviously medicines, like you said in Western medicine has a place, but it’s nice because there’s also this whole other side as well, where the mental aspect healing of a patient because a patient has all the medicine and the doctor care, which is great. But if they’re thinking that they’re sick, they’re sick, there’s you know what I mean?

[00:50:24.580] – Laura Cicholski

If they’re they have that mindset, it’s not going to help them go in the right direction, I don’t think.

[00:50:28.900] – Lisa Dunlap

Oh, yeah. And that’s a whole nother big conversation. But yes. And that brings me to remember to say you can do these tools and you don’t need to be certified with a patient. You know, it’s harmless. You say, let’s breathe together for a few minutes. Yeah. Do a self compassion. Ask if they’re willing. And I know you don’t have time, but a little bit can go a long way with a patient. And sometimes it’s an energetic holding of the hand and it’s not even about the words.

[00:50:55.960] – Lisa Dunlap

But yeah, the mindset shifting for patients is really powerful. And I think especially with cancer patients, there’s been a lot of studies about that in how tumors have dissolved.

[00:51:05.200] – Lisa Dunlap

So it’s amazing.

[00:51:07.360] – Laura Cicholski

I know that all these tips you’re giving are so wonderful and helpful. And I think there’s so much to be said about this field, especially with all the health care providers have dealt with over the past year. One thing I want to say, too, is that I know not everyone is going to do yoga, not all health care providers. Well, that’s fine. I know my husband doesn’t want to do yoga, but the other day I taught him to do some mindfulness stuff, but I called it stretching now and then.

[00:51:27.400] – Laura Cicholski

It was stretching. It was OK. Mindfulness. He was like out of the other room, you know, but I love that.

[00:51:33.850] – Lisa Dunlap

And I think that’s I put a post I have a Facebook group. If anyone wants to join for women right now, it’s for nurses, nurse practitioners and gays. And it’s free. It’s called burnout to Bliss. And in that group, I had a post about, OK, I bet you don’t know you’re already doing mindfulness.

[00:51:50.350] – Laura Cicholski

And often it’s when you’re exercising, you have to be fully present, right. Or any.time you are in nature, you’re doing it without thinking, and so I love that, that you’ve reframed it for your husband because I think the buzzwords overwhelm people. And so that’s really cool.

[00:52:08.810] – Laura Cicholski

That’s awesome. And one last point, and I’ll let you talk about your website, I think, to one speaker I talked to a couple weeks ago. She mentioned for me, she’s like she said, when you’re walking outside, she said, do you are you on your phone? I said, usually check in business emails or texting back or making a doctor call or whatever I need to. And she’s like, no, you should be just enjoying your walk with your dogs in nature or if you’re with a friend.

[00:52:28.800] – Laura Cicholski

And I said, OK, you know, I use that as time to, like, get stuff done. But then if we’re doing that, are we really so I think turning off our electronics when we can obviously a doctor on call and you need that phone all the time, then we have kids. You have to keep it on. But if you could maybe just keep in your pocket and not be on it physically, you can still have access to be reached.

[00:52:49.440] – Lisa Dunlap

But I love that you mentioned that sometimes I forget those things are important to mention because I do practice what your friend said a lot. Like I consciously have to put my phone away and spend time with my family. That’s so easy to multitask and it’s not resting at any time we’re scrolling in. That comes into a whole nother realm that I coach about rituals when we get home from work because we’re really revved up and how do we break down? And the ritual often for people is to numb it.

[00:53:20.580] – Lisa Dunlap

And we’re all guilty of it with Netflix scrolling food and alcohol. But how can we have like a three minute practice when we get in our car, when we get home to check in with, OK, what am I feeling and what do I really need tonight? Not just like what is my, you know, my addiction or my habit want? And I mean, we all do it, so there’s no judgment. But I am putting the phone away for mindfulness is huge.

[00:53:48.330] – Laura Cicholski

Yes, that’s awesome. Well, it’s been great to have you here today. Thank you for being here. Health care provider and also all this advice for the other health care providers and can where can they already find you?

[00:54:00.480] – Lisa Dunlap

Thank you for having me. It’s been so fun. They can find me at my website. Nursed your soul with just how a spell, how it sounds dotcom. Or they can find me on Facebook and Instagram. I’m in both places and they also are nurse your soul with Lisa. And I would love to invite anyone who’s in on this, watching this to enjoy a free one on one forty five minute coaching call with me. They’ll be a link.

[00:54:27.420] – Lisa Dunlap

And I also run a Burnout Busters monthly group. Right now it’s for nurses and nurse practitioners and PA’s but I don’t know, at some point I might expand that to physicians to or have a separate group. And we just talk about all these topics. We run through practices. The next one is June 13th. So you can find me and message me about that if you wanted to join for a small fee. And I think that’s about it. Yeah.

[00:54:54.810] – Lisa Dunlap

Instagram, LinkedIn under Lisa Dunlap under my name.

[00:54:57.930] – Laura Cicholski

So perfect. Thank you, Lisa. It’s been a lot of fun to talk to you, and I know your tips will help a lot of health care providers. Thank you so much.

[00:55:04.470] – Lisa Dunlap

Yeah. Thank you for having me. You’re welcome.


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Lisa is a resilience coach, integrative nurse practitioner & wellness educator who brings 13 years of combined nursing and nurse practitioner experience.  Her certifications in healing touch, reflexology, & clinical aromatherapy combined with trainings in mindfulness and self-compassion offer a comprehensive and holistic approach to healing transformations.  Her vision is to create a global community that nurtures human connection and empowers self-healing.  She currently works with healthcare providers and senior citizens to empower them to move from a place of uncertainty, overwhelm, and burnout to a place of self-acceptance, confidence, and thriving.

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